“Health and Safety at Work - Prevention Starts Here”: Employers, have you posted your MOL Safety Poster?

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) aims to protect the health and safety of workers on the job through the enforcement of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “Act”). In order to remain in compliance with the Act, employers are required to post, in their workplace, a copy of the Act and any explanatory material prepared by the MOL, outlining the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers. The Act and any such explanatory materials must be posted in both English and the majority language of the workplace in question. An employer who employs or contracts for the services of one or more workers and is not otherwise exempt from the Act must comply.

The MOL recently released explanatory material in the form of a Safety Poster that all employers covered under the Act must now post in their workplace. Though the MOL wants to ensure that employers have sufficient time to become aware of this new requirement, they have stated that inspectors will begin enforcing compliance with this new requirement on October 1, 2012.

The MOL outlines the purpose of the Safety Poster on its website:

“The poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities and the responsibilities of employers and supervisors. It also reminds employers that they must not take action against workers for following the act or for raising workplace health and safety concerns, and seeking enforcement of the OHSA. The poster encourages workers to get involved in health and safety and explains when and why to contact the Ministry of Labour”.

This Safety Poster was developed upon the recommendation of an expert advisory panel appointed by the MOL in March 2010 to review Ontario’s occupational health and safety system. The panel found that many workers in Ontario had little or no understanding of the Act, including their rights and obligations as workers. As a result, the panel made 46 recommendations to the MOL, including the recommendation that the MOL create a health and safety poster outlining workers’ key health and safety rights in the workplace.

The Safety Poster is available on the MOL website and has been reproduced in 17 languages. It may be downloaded and printed in pdf format from their website [click here]. The MOL requires that the poster be posted in a print size of at least 8.5 x 11 inches.

Ontario employers should post the above Safety Poster in a visible location in their workplace right away so as to ensure they are in compliance with the Act come October 1, 2012.

[Ontario Employment Law, Ontario Health & Safety Act, OHSA, Employers, Ministry of Labour]